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Special Materials: Hazardous Waste

red square Universal Waste

Batteries, light bulbs, electronic devices and items containing mercury: together, these things are known as Universal Waste. Californians are no longer allowed to just put them in the trash. That's because chemicals from Universal Waste can eventually find their way into the environment, contaminating our air, our water, and even the food we eat.

Examples of Universal Waste:


  • AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries (e.g. hearing aid batteries). These may contain a corrosive chemical that can cause burns as well as toxic heavy metals like cadmium.
  • For Proper disposal visit participating Jiffy Lube Locations, City Libraries, and B & B Hardware.

Light Bulbs

  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge (HID), metal halide, sodium, and neon bulbs all contain mercury vapor that may release into the environment if the bulb is broken. Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause harm to people and animals including nerve damage and birth defects. When mercury is released into the environment, it can contaminate the air we breathe. If mercury enters local streams, rivers, and the ocean, it can contaminate the fish that people eat. For proper disposal visit B & B Hardware.


  • Televisions and computer monitors, computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens often contain heavy metals like lead, cadmium, copper, and chromium.


  • Thermostats contain mercury inside the sealed glass “tilt switch” of the old style thermostats but not the newer electronic kind.
  • Switches and relays contain mercury and can be found in some chest freezers, pre-1972 washing machines, sump pumps, electric space heaters, clothes irons, light switches and relays, automobile lights, and ABS brakes. They also can be found in some gas appliances such as stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces and space heaters.
  • Gauges such as barometers, manometers, blood pressure, and vacuum gauges contain mercury.
  • Mercury Added Novelties including greeting cards that play music when opened; athletic shoes (made before 1997) with flashing lights in soles; and mercury maze games.
  • Mercury thermometers contain about a half-gram of mercury.

What You Can Do

The Bureau of Sanitation has established a number of permanent collection sites throughout the City, known as S.A.F.E. CENTERS. These S.A.F.E. CENTERS are open every weekend and provide a timely and convenient way to dispose of your residential, household e-waste.

You can also take Universal Waste to an LA County HHW Roundup event.

Warning: Disposing of household chemicals in your trash, storm drains or sewers damages the environment, and is AGAINST THE LAW. Illegal dumping carries a minimum fine of $5000 per day per violation up to $100,000 per day per violation or imprisonment (Section 25189.5, Health & Safety Code). The City of Los Angeles operates the "HAZMOBILE" drop-off program to provide for the safe and legal disposal of your unwanted household chemicals.

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